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Montana Audubon works at the local, state and national policy levels to protect our natural heritage.

We’re Accepting Award Nominations for 2017 – our 40th Anniversary Year!

Montana Audubon is currently seeking nominations in the following categories for its annual awards – our 40th Anniversary year (!):


  • Lifetime Achievement Award. For an Audubon volunteer who has dedicated extraordinary effort, time and energy to shape the activities and successes of a local Audubon Chapter and/or Montana Audubon.
  • Educator of the Year. For a person who has shown outstanding achievement in educating others about birds, other wildlife, and conservation of habitat.
  • Conservationist of the Year. For an individual who has provided significant wildlife conservation achievement in Montana.
  • Citizen Scientist of the Year. For a person contributing significantly to our knowledge and understanding of birds and their habitats through monitoring and observations.
  • Special Achievement Award. For a person who has shown an extraordinary commitment to birds, other wildlife, and the conservation of habitat on a special project or through special activities.

Download a nomination form: 2017_award_nomination_form

To be considered for this year’s awards, nominations and all supporting material must be emailed (PREFERRED) OR postmarked no later than Friday, May 19, 2017. Nomination material can be sent to Janet Ellis by email, mail (Montana Audubon, PO Box 595, Helena, MT 59624), or fax: (406) 443-7144. The award ceremony will take place on June 10 at Montana Audubon’s Bird Festival in Great Falls. Questions? Contact the Montana Audubon office at 406-443-3949 or [email protected].

The complete list of individuals recognized since 1996 can be downloaded HERE: MT_Audubon_Award_List.

Below you will find our award winners from 2016:

Becky Kean – Conservationist of the Year

Montana’s raptors directly benefit from the hard work and dedication of the recipient of our 2016

Marco Restani (left) and Becky Kean (right)

Marco Restani (left) and Becky Kean (right)

Conservationist of the Year: Becky Kean, Executive Director of the Bozeman-based Montana Raptor Conservation Center.

Becky is a dedicated leader, as well as an inspiration to others. In fact, since taking the helm of the Raptor Center in 2008, Becky has become the heart and soul of the Center:

  • She has recruited and trained over a hundred volunteers, many of whom continue to work regularly at the Raptor Center.
  • She is known for her tireless work to find, transport, evaluate, provide appropriate care for, and rehabilitate injured raptors. She also has developed a strong network of organizations and individuals to give each raptor the best possible chance to successfully return to the wild.
  • Under Becky’s leadership, the Raptor Center has developed an extensive education program using raptors that cannot be released into the wild. Becky herself has presented hundreds of education talks to people all over the state of Montana.

We are pleased to recognize Becky for her tireless work and commitment.

Larry Weeks – Environmental Educator of the Year

Larry Weeks with Award

Larry Weeks

This year we joined Missoula’s Five Valleys Audubon to recognize an environmental educator: Larry Weeks, a retired pulp and paper technology engineer, who worked at the Smurfit-Stone Mill in Missoula.

Larry has been active in Five Valleys Audubon for 18 years, including giving education programs for the past 13 years:

  • As the chapter’s Community Naturalist, Larry has conducted over 460 education programs for schools and other community groups, reaching a cumulative total of over 7,000 children and 3,000 adults.
  • Larry’s programs cover everything from basic bird identification to ecology. His fire ecology workshop at St. Joseph School includes three classroom sessions and a field trip to a nearby recent forested burn.
  • Larry has also organized numerous beginning and advanced birding workshops, which are open to the public. The workshops combine classroom talks with field trips to give participants a chance to hone their birding skills.

Five Valleys Audubon—and the Missoula area—are lucky to have such a dedicated educator in their midst. We are pleased to celebrate Larry’s many education accomplishments with this award.

Gary Swant – Citizen Scientist of the Year

We recognized Gary Swant of Deer Lodge with our 2016 Citizen Scientist of the Year Award because of his decades of work:

Jack Kirkley (left) and Gary Swant (right)

Jack Kirkley (left) and Gary Swant (right)

  • Systematically watching birds and then submitting records to the Montana Natural Heritage Program’s database: he personally has contributed 33,713 observations to the database on 320 bird species since 1986.
  • Leading two Christmas Bird Counts (CBC): Warm Springs Pond and Grant Kohr’s Ranch; as well as participating annually in the Clark Canyon Dam CBC.
  • Holding the American Birders Association’s record for the most bird species seen in Montana: in 2008 Gary completed his Big Montana Year with a final tally of 329 species, a record that stands today.
  • Documenting 214 species of birds at Warm Spring ponds near Anaconda. In fact, Gary’s long-term bird monitoring of this site makes him an expert on the changes to this area, as well as its birds.
  • Writing a regular bird column in Butte’s newspaper, the Montana Standard, as well as Helena’s Independent Record.

We are pleased to recognize all of Gary’s work for birds, Audubon, and the state of Montana with this award.

Bev Orth Geoghegan – Lifetime Achievement Award

Our Lifetime Achievement Award honors a long-time, dedicated chapter volunteer. This year we recognized Five Valleys Audubon’s Bev Orth Geoghegan.Bev Office Award_small

Bev’s involvement with Audubon started when she was hired by the National Audubon Society in their Missoula office. Although at the time birding was new to her, she quickly became interested in ‘all things birds’—including Five Valleys Audubon.

In 2001 Bev became the newsletter editor for Missoula’s chapter. Volunteer newsletter editors are not often recognized—or appreciated. But producing 10 newsletters per year, for 15 years, rain-or-shine, vacations or not, regular job notwithstanding, and family obligations juggled, means a lot of work: each newsletter requires 10-12 hours of work, meaning Bev has volunteered for the chapter a minimum 100 to 120 hours per year or 1,500 to 1,800 hours since she started.

In addition, there’s an interesting twist to Bev’s commitment: a few years ago she moved to New York City—yet, she continues to faithfully get out the chapter’s monthly newsletter!

Montana Audubon and Five Valleys Audubon are both pleased to recognize Bev’s long-term dedication and commitment as an outstanding volunteer.

Jeff Marks, Dan Casey & Paul Hendricks – Outstanding Achievement Award

We recognized the co-authors of the newly released reference book, Birds of Montana, with a 2016 Outstanding Achievement Award: Jeff Marks, Dan Casey and Paul Hendricks deserve special recognition

From left to right: Dan Casey, Paul Hendricks and Jeff Marks

From left to right: Dan Casey, Paul Hendricks and Jeff Marks

because they:

  • Completed a badly needed reference book for the state of Montana that summarizes information on the status, distribution, biology, conservation, and historical aspects of the bird species known to occur in the state.
  • Devoted an incredible amount of time, energy, and elbow grease to see this book through to completion—including researching, writing, revising, fundraising, and seeing the book through to publication.
  • Provided the state with a resource that documents population trends through time, rare birds and their needs, declining habitats, and the outlook for common birds.
  • Produced a book that will surely inspire further conservation actions for rare and important habitats, as well as species throughout the state.

We are grateful to this trio for their hard-work and dedication to develop this “must-have” reference “for anyone who cares about the birdlife of Montana” (Quote from Buteo Books website).

Whisper Camel-Means and Stephanie Gillin – Science Outreach Award


Whisper Camel Means

We recognized two wildlife biologists for our 2016 Science Outreach Award: Whisper Camel-Means and Stephanie Gillin, from the Tribal Wildlife Management Program of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes. Their work as a team is demonstrated by their numerous achievements:

  • Overseeing the annual Community Bird Festival, with draws more than 400 people annually.
  • Working on the annual Flathead River Honoring, which draws up to 1,000 students, and a Science Learning Tent project at the Arlee Pow-wow.
  • Serving as a resource for all Reservation school teachers.
  • Receiving national recognition for their work by being r

    Stephanie Gillin

    ecognized, along with a colleague, with the 2015 Paul Shin Memorial Award for communicating science to the public.

  • Helping found SciNation, which reaches over 4,000 youth and families each year on the Flathead Indian Reservation to foster a passion for science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) learning while respecting tribal cultural values.
  • Continuing their work as accomplished scientists and wildlife biologists.

Whisper and Stephanie are both amazing advocates for wildlife conservation, as well as wonderful role models for Flathead Indian Reservation communities. We are pleased to recognize this duo for their outstanding work.

Past Awards

2015 Awards

These awards were presented at our annual Bird Festival in Helena in 2015. We recognize these individuals and groups for their excellent work:

  • Lifetime Achievement Award ~ Jo Lace and Brian Shovers (Helena)
  • Conservationist of the Year ~ Amy Cilimburg
  • Educator of the Year ~ Vince Yannone
  • Citizen Scientist of the Year ~ Harriet Marble
  • Special Achievement Award ~ Jane Beasley
  • Special Achievement Award ~ Jay Sumner

2014 Awards

These awards were presented at our annual Bird Festival in Bozeman in 2014. We recognize these individuals and groups for their excellent work:

  • Lifetime Achievement Award ~ Jack Kirkley
  • Educator of the Year ~ Carol Ward
  • Conservationist of the Year ~ Paulette Epple
  • Citizen Scientist of the Year ~ Kate Stone
  • Special Achievement Award ~ Peter Norlander

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    Helena, MT 59624

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